Friday, February 4, 2011

how to bust an ice dam

We upped the ante in our Battle of the Ice Dams today. I figured a step-by-step post might be useful for others fighting their own Damn Battle this winter:

Step 1: Gather your materials. You need a bucket of Calcium Chloride (don't use regular rock salt, it damages your shingles and stains your roof and siding). We bought ours at BJ's Wholesale Club (but we got the last couple of buckets, so you'd better call first, this stuff is getting rare, roof rakes). You also need several pairs of old pantyhose. Or, if you're like me and ditched your nylon torture devices years ago, go out and buy a 4-pack (we bought our at Big K-Mart). Total cost for ice melt and stockings: $27.

Step 2: Cut the legs off the pantyhose and fill them with the Calcium Chloride. Use protection for your hands, because MAN does that stuff burn chapped hands. (J noted that salts are electron-hoarders, so when it contacts my skin, it's sucking out my electrons and causing that burning feeling. He pointed out that that's how it works to melt snow and ice as well, since that electron-sucking causes heat. Go figure. Science lesson in the face of an emergency. Gotta love homeschooling!) You might want to consider a particle mask (I thought a little too late as I felt that burning feeling in my lungs, too).

Step 3: Tie off the ends of the nylon legs after they are stuffed. Use a bucket to carry your "sausages" outside to your roof.

Step 4: Get out the big ladder.

Step 5: Sink your ladder in the snow (funny how firmly 4 feet of snow holds a ladder....) and haul a sausage up there over your shoulder so your hands are free to hang on for dear life.

Step 6: Place the sausage perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to your roof line so that most of it is on the roof, and the bottom part of it drapes across the dammed up gutter and a little bit hangs over the edge. See below for proper placement. Repeat as often as desirable to create channels for the water to escape the roof rather than back up under the shingles and creep down your walls (or gush down your sliding glass door, whichever the case may be).

Step 7: (optional) Retrieve fallen sausages from frozen bushes and replace on the roof. (The number of times you'll need to repeat this step will depend on the IQ level of your no-cost maintenance worker.)

Step 8: Hold your breath and wait. Actually, don't hold your breath. Just wait. (By the way, this is the proper placement of the sausage.)

Results: As you can see from this photo taken 7 hours post-sausage-placement, the ice dam is pretty much gone from under the sausage, and there's an obvious lack of icicles as compared to roof sections with no sausages. (This particular sausage is no longer in the right position, the no-cost maintenance worker is going to need to replace it when he gets home from inspecting the roof of his office, which was shut down today due to concerns of possible collapse. Nice. If you haven't seen the news about what's been going on in Connecticut in regards to roofs and buildings collapsing this week, you're missing out on one of the real gems of this winter. There are just not many schools or buildings open anymore. Heck, there's not going to be many standing anymore at this rate.)

Jury's still out in regards to whether or not this stops the infiltration of our house by dripping water. This morning it was streaming inside the bathroom window, which is what prompted us to step up our game, but now there's just some icicles (always a little disturbing to have icicles in your house...), so I consider that an improvement of sorts. No active dripping water anywhere inside the house right now, while there most assuredly IS dripping off the gutters at the sausage locations. So I take that all as a very positive sign. Of course, we're getting another storm tomorrow. (Yes, my life is all rainbows and lollipops.) So, um, we'll see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had the whole family gather round to see your tutorial on how to make an effective weapon to conquer Ice Dams using Chemical Warfare (electron hoarding as I've just learned) with Nylon Torture Devices. Thank you for the info.